Let me just start by saying that my one (1) semester of Bible School was one of the most fun periods of my life. I got introduced to the war between Contemporary Christian music and Gospel (I swear that if they had sung 'Open The Eyes of My Heart Lord' one more time I was gonna stab someone so that their heart would be the only way they'd be seeing). I learned that 1-4-5 gets boring really, really fast. I was once told that I could play one chord, fourths, for the entire song. Thanks for that, by the way.
But I got to be involved with some incredibly talented people, see aspects of ministry that blew my mind and watch young people take their first steps into ministry in ways that were incredible. I have enduring friendships and connections from Bible School - I've met tons of other people through friends at other Bible Schools - the social networking aspect is amazing. I also grew a fat stomach for the first time in my life, frequented Krispe Kreme donuts almost every day (I had a booklet of free dozens), and got the worst GPA I'd ever had in my life. Typically at least a 3.0 student, I descended into the abyss of the 1 point something zone. I think it had to do with the 7am classes (who does that - really people, you should think out the scheduling a little better). I fell asleep in that 7am class whenever I managed to attend (Thanks to Terry Baughman for being kind), faked my way through sight singing and had a blast the whole time.
But at the end of the semester, it was decision time. "Do I come back or not?" So what had been a blast, an escape and an all around good time had to be thought over. So here we go - a look at the phenomenon that is Bible School.
What do you do with your child when they're finished with High School? They've been sheltered, perhaps Home-schooled, and now they're at the stage where keeping them at home and completely sheltered from the world is becoming increasingly difficult. The answer? Bible College! Here's why:
1. Bible School will surround your child (almost adult) with other people of like precious faith in an unsustainably 'spiritual' environment where they will go from glory to glory and ascend to dizzying heights of spirituality and godliness. (Where else can you find midnight prayer meetings on a regular basis that people actually attend?)
2. There will be a campus pastor. This person will be like a parent, thus making the fictitious nature of 'freedom' easier to bear for the parent while still giving the child some latitude to engage in the heretofore villainized world. (This poor guy has the worst job at the school; the parents want more, the kids want less, and he's constantly being monitored by the school.)
3. There is an entire staff of people who will monitor the clothing choices of your child. They will not be allowed to dress like heathens and be immodest.
4. They will be further indoctrinated in the ways of the UPCI (unless they went to CLC prior to Dan Segraves and Jeff Garner leaving - and even then, David Bernard's books are required reading).
5. They'll be getting an education without any fears of contamination by that evolution crap or liberal agendas or crazy humanities or any critical thought that will really make them think all while supporting the belief set you have drilled in to their heads from the time they were able to formulate small sentences.
6. If they do question anything you taught them, it will probably have to do with sleeve length and whether shorts are acceptable or not. Although I do remember a couple of guys I knew who showed up in the dorms with brand new matching lightning bolt tattoos. Think Harry Potter, only instead of on their foreheads, it was on their right shoulders. I was then required to read the Bible and figure out whether tattoos were actually a sin or just a cultural taboo. Wow, that's a paradigm shift. But then again, maybe not.
7. They will be required to attend church services and attendance will be taken to make sure they are there. If they miss, fines will accrue. (Every bad action has an equal or greater reaction that inevitably has a fine attached. There's a reason Bible College students are always broke.)
You parents should be aware. There are other parents who send their kids to Bible School because they are at their wits end. So what you also get are the problem kids. Kids who smoke pot and sleep around. Kids who are exploring their sexuality. Kids who are questioning everything. And they all get thrown into the same pot.
So although there are curfews and dress codes and midnight prayer meetings, and no mixed bathing at the beach, there are also curfew breakers, kids having sex in the school library/parking lot/chapel/etc., teenage pregnancies and the gay/lesbian who comes out and then continues their ministry in the gay pentecostal movement. Not to mention the inevitable interest in alcohol and all that entails. Much to my surprise (I found out after I left) there was a room that was known for being the party room and people got drunk in there frequently.
And the best part? If (and that's a very big if) you manage to make it through all four years of Bible School - you get a diploma. A diploma that doesn't mean anything unless you're at a UPCI event where you see all your other friends who went to the same school you went to. Or a neighboring school. Then it's cool because of social networking. And you know people. And people know you. And if you happen to be talented, you might get asked to do music at an event, or speak at a conference. In the Apo/Penny world. Try and do anything outside of that and the diploma you just spent four (4) years to get, and you get a blank stare and the realization slowly dawns: "that school isn't accredited." Even though they've been trying since the 60's. It still hasn't happened. And nobody in the greater Christian subculture even knows what this school is. Unless it's Missouri Baptist and then you can transfer over. And Gateway students said, "Hallelujah!"
I remember an instructor telling me that the education I would get at Bible School was as good as one in a secular college. Which made me wonder, "if they're equivalent, why not go to the one where I'll get an accredited degree?"
So the next logical step would be to discuss the available Bible School options. Which we will do in the next few blogs. But I'd like some input from you all. To those of you who are either current Bible School students or alumni would be interested in doing a brief, but humorous write up of the college of your choice and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd love to post your take - we can credit you with authoring the piece or you can remain anonymous - it is up to you.
I went to CLC so I'll be posting that one in the next few days and someone is already taking Gateway - but if you went/go to IBC, TBC, ABI, Kent, or JCM, please feel free to send us an email. If I've missed any schools, let me know.